Sarah Collins Rudolph calls herself the “fifth little girl.”
She survived the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, more than 50 years ago, and now, she travels the country sharing her story.
On Wednesday, Rudolph told students at Atlantic City High School it took her a very long time to open up about her experience.
Rudolph’s sister and three other young girls — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair — died in an explosion set by members of the Ku Klux Klan at a black church in Birmingham, on Sept. 15, 1963. Twenty-two others were injured.
Three Klansman were sentenced in the girls’ murders. A fourth alleged bomber was never charged.
Coming at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called the bombing “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”
Rudolph visited both the high school and Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville last week to talk about the life-changing event, made all the more relevant after several recent attacks on houses of worship in the United States and abroad.
She thanked God for her strength.
“I was going through a lot before He healed me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here speaking if God hadn’t done work on the inside of me.”
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SOURCE: Press of Atlantic City, Claire Lowe